November 27, 2006 4:14 PM PST

Security A to Z: Two-factor authentication

When it comes to beating fraudsters, if one security measure is good, two is better, right?

That's the principle of two-factor authentication, which is getting big in the online banking world. It works alongside usernames and passwords as a second level of security, helping to ensure that a user of a service such as e-banking is the person they say they are.

The A to Z of security
Read the first part in our rundown of hot security topics, from antivirus to zero-day threats.

The second level of security can be anything--from hardware that generates a single-use number to a series of pre-selected security questions. Typically, though, it is the physical devices--tokens and password/PIN generators--that are most commonly discussed.

It's early days for the tech, but it already has its critics. Back in 2005, security guru Bruce Schneier gave it a vote of no confidence, saying it is "designed to solve the issues from 10 years ago."

Natasha Lomas of reported from London.

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authentication, online banking, security, password


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